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Forget Wearables: Future Washable Smart Clothes Powered by Wi-Fi Will Monitor Your Health


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The fingertips of a wireless voltage detection glove illuminates when the wearers hand approaches a live cable.

Purdue University engineers have developed a method to transform existing cloth items into battery-free wearables powered wirelessly through a flexible, silk-based coil.

Credit: Rebecca McElhoe/Purdue University

Purdue University engineers have developed a technique to turn apparel into washable smart clothes that operate without batteries, by drawing power wirelessly.

Purdue's Ramses Martinez said the method involves spray-coating the clothes with hydrophobic molecules to repel water, oil, and mud, while electronic components are sewn onto their surfaces.

The circuitry captures ambient Wi-Fi or radio waves, and converts them to electricity to power the clothes.

Said Martinez, "I envision smart clothes will be able to transmit information about the posture and motion of the wearer to mobile apps, allowing machines to understand human intent without the need of other interfaces, expanding the way we communicate, interact with devices, and play video games."

From Purdue University Research Foundation News
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